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Russia warns US media in Moscow they risk losing their accreditation: Sources

Russia warned US news organizations on Monday they risked being stripped of their accreditation unless the treatment of Russian journalists in the United States improves, according to three sources with knowledge of the matter.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, some Russian state media have been prevented from operating in the United States and some other Western states by withdrawing their broadcasting licenses and sanctioning the outlets, steps Moscow says show a disregard for media freedom.

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In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin signed a law in March imposing a jail term of up to 15 years for spreading intentionally “fake” news about the military, prompting some Western media to pull their journalists out of Russia.

Maria Zakharova, Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, announced last week she was calling in the heads of US media outlets to notify them of “the most stringent measures” in response to the “hostility” encountered by their Russian peers in the United States.

At the meeting on Monday, she outlined the difficulties for Russian journalists there including over visa renewals, blocked bank accounts and alleged harassment by US intelligence agencies, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the meeting.

Zakharova warned the outlets that if Russian journalists were not able to work freely in the United States, then their reporters in Russia risked facing similar difficulties with their visas, media accreditation and bank accounts.

She told the US media representatives that unless things changed, then the US journalists would have to leave. She added that Russia did not want to do this but was being forced to because of the plight of Russian journalists.

Zakharova did not respond to a written request to comment on the meeting or about the warning to US media organizations.

The RIA state news agency said representatives of The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Associated Press, NPR and Alhurra TV attended the meeting.

Spokespersons for US media organizations such as Associated Press, CNN, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the meeting.

Washington has imposed sanctions against some state-run Russian TV stations, which it says have spread disinformation to bolster Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russian officials do not use the words “invasion” or “war.”

Russian officials including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Zakharova say Western media have provided an excessively partial narrative of what they call Russia’s “special operation” in Ukraine that ignores Russia’s concerns about the enlargement of NATO and the alleged persecution of Russian-speakers.

While some Western media organizations have left Russia, others, including Reuters, have stayed in the country and continue to report.

Read more: New round of US sanctions on Russia targets Putin allies, govt officials

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US: Bodies of two of three missing kids found in Minnesota lake

The bodies of two young children have been recovered from a Minnesota lake, and searchers are still looking for a third they fear may have been intentionally drowned.

Meanwhile, the father of the children died at a different location hours earlier, and their mother is missing. Names have not been released.

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The chain of events began Friday morning when the father was found dead at a mobile home park in the town of Maplewood, near Minneapolis. Police determined that the woman had left with the children, and a search began.

Maplewood Police Lt. Joe Steiner said the woman’s car was found near Vadnais Lake around 4 p.m. Friday. The shoes of the children were found on the shore.

A search of the lake found one child’s body Friday evening. A second body was found overnight. Searchers from several organizations were busy Saturday looking for the third, as well as the mother.

Authorities believe all three children were under the age of 5.

“There’s nothing more tragic than the loss of young children,” Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said at a news conference on Friday. He called the deaths a “likely triple homicide.”

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Foreign firefighters arrive in Greece for summer wildfire season

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Foreign firefighters arrive in Greece for summer wildfire season

Several dozen Romanian and Bulgarian firefighters took up their posts in Greece on Saturday, the first members of a European force being deployed to the country to provide backup in case of major wildfires during the summer.

More than 200 firefighters and equipment from Bulgaria, France, Germany, Romania, Norway and Finland will be on standby during the hottest months of July and August in Greece, where a spate of wildfires caused devastation last summer.

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A group of 28 Romanian firefighters with eight vehicles, and 16 firefighters from Bulgaria with four vehicles, were the first to arrive for the two-month mission, financed and coordinated under the European Union’s civil protection mechanism.

“We thank you very much for coming to help us during a difficult summer for our country, and for proving that European solidarity is not just theoretical, it’s real,” Greek Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides said on Saturday as he welcomed the members of the Romanian mission in Athens.

“When things get tough, you will be side by side with our Greek firefighters so we can save lives and property.”

The Bulgarian firefighters have been stationed in Larissa, in central Greece.

Last summer’s wildfires ravaged about 300,000 acres (121,000 hectares) of forest and bushland in different parts of Greece as the country experienced its worst heatwave in 30 years.

Following sharp criticism of its response to the fires, the Greek government set up a new civil protection ministry and promised to boost firefighting capacities.

In Greece’s worst wildfire disaster, 102 people were killed when a blaze tore through the seaside town of Mati and nearby areas close to Athens during the summer of 2018.

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One killed, six injured in shootout between migrant groups in Serbia

One migrant was killed and at least six others, including a teenage girl, were injured Saturday in a shootout between migrant groups in Serbia near the Hungarian border, the state-run RTS television reported.

The 16-year-old girl sustained life threatening injuries in the incident that occurred in a forest in the outskirts of Subotica, some 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Belgrade, where the injured were hospitalized, RTS reported.

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Police, who made no immediate comment, blocked access to the forest where the incident took place, only around a kilometer from the Hungarian border.

Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin rushed to the scene.

The injured, aged between 20 and 30, have no documents, Subotica mayor Stevan Bakic told local media.

It is not known what triggered the incident, he added.

Local media reported that the shootout occurred between Afghan and Pakistani migrants most likely over human trafficking from the area to European Union member Hungary.

Serbia lies on the so-called Balkans route used by migrants heading towards Western Europe as they flee war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Although the route is nowhere as busy as it was during Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, tens of thousands of illegal migrants still cross the region annually.

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